Interview with Ellen Croshain about her new book

So, this story you’ve written. What’s it about? Why should I interrupt my nap-time to read it?
Well, ‘Cruelty: Unmasked’ is a sequel to my first book, ‘Cruelty’. It’s set about 25 years after the events of book 1. Eliza and Cornelius have two children, Áine and Caolán who are 21 and 16. Faroust is still around as Henry the gardener, stewing over what Eliza did to him. But everything isn’t well with Eliza’s family; Cornelius and Caolán are at each other’s throats and Áine, who has recently broken up with her long term boyfriend, has caught Henry’s eye. He deliberately seduces her, with a mind to eventually reveal it to Eliza, and break her heart. Eliza herself isn’t well and seems to be slowly unravelling. And let’s not forget about the Veil. Eliza may have closed it, but that doesn’t mean it’ll stay closed. More than that I can’t say, but there is a third book.
Where do you get inspiration? Where did the ideas for your latest novel come from?
Mostly mythology. My BA degree is in Ancient History and English Literature. I read a lot, from classic literature to sci-fi, so sometimes a seed of an idea will lodge itself in my brain. I have always had a really active imagination so my brain will just feed it until it happens. The inspiration for ‘Cruelty: Unmasked’ actually came from Elizabeth Hull, who reviewed ‘Cruelty’ and said she hoped there was scope for more stories. I started writing and found there were lots more stories to tell. Not all of them may make it into printed word but they’re there.
Who’s your favourite imaginary friend? Is there anyone you don’t like?
From my own writing or other people’s? If it’s my own, it’s Eliza. She’s resourceful, clever, fiercely protective of her family but I also like her less honourable qualities. She is manipulative and secretive but none of what she does is intended to hurt anyone.

If it’s someone else’s work, then it’s Lestat. He was the first character I ever really connected with, the first hero (anti-hero) who was shades of grey, good and bad in equal measure.

As for someone I don’t like. Superman. He’s too black and white. Too judgemental.
What are your plans to conquer the world?
Irrepressible Irish charm. Plus I know a few Faeries who might help out, just for the craic.
What research rabbit-holes have you been down while writing? What was the most interesting, or the most tedious?
Oh, so many. Mostly it was Faerie Queens (there are many). Without giving too much away, I needed one, and I’d killed Mebh off-stage in Book 1 and Jim Butcher’s sort of got the monopoly on Mab. It took forever to decide on who to use and then to create a strong character for her. I’m happy with how she turned out though.
How often do you provide a cat sleeping spot- I mean, write? Do you have a comfy chair and a routine, or do you freelance cat-nap style?
I try to write every day but there’s no routine. I have a full time job, a toddler and a household to run so I squeeze in the writing whenever I can.
When you’re not writing, what do you spend your time doing? Besides looking at cat pictures on the internet, obviously.
I teach English full time. When not at work or writing, I spend as much time with my family as I can. I sing in my church choir and I bake as well.
Is there anything you’ve read/seen recently that would be worthy of my attention? [aka. what book or film recommendations would you make?]
‘Thor: Ragnarock’ was so good, a really good adventure. ‘Coco’ was amazing. Left me in floods of tears. I’ve also been watching some great anime: ‘My Hero Academia’ is a great underdog story and ‘The Ancient Magnus’ Bride’ is just a wonderfully bittersweet thing, full of magic and faeries. As for books: Dresden Files, ‘The Copper Promise’, ALL of the Grimbold Catalogue, The Vampire Chronicles, and ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’.

If you kindly brought your human a present, and they scream and tell you that they don’t like dead mice – that’s just rude, isn’t it?
Well, I know that cats think that humans are just bad hunters who can’t take care of themselves, which is why they bring dead mice but honestly, you don’t need to worry; we have supermarkets these days. I understand why you would find it rude though.
Cats. Fabulous, or completely fabulous?
Completely fabulous.
What’s your second-favourite food? Because obviously you are a human of taste and discretion, and therefore your favourite is tuna.
Actually, I have an oily fish allergy so tuna would kill me. I love pasta, spaghetti Bolognese is my favourite.
Bold’s bow tie: excellently stylish, or rather dashing?
Rather dashing
On a scale of ‘excellent’ to ‘needs more practise’, how good are you at giving ear scritches?
Excellent. No cat has ever complained.
By the way, I left you a present behind the chair. I hope you like hairballs.
I will treasure it always. I will even place it in a special container that is definitely not the bin.

Available for pre-order, release date 30th May
Henry used to be a god. Now, he’s just the gardener.
Nearly twenty-five years have passed since the ancient Faroust fell in love with Eliza MacTir. Stripped of his powers and forced to work for the family he used to rule, he can’t avoid the woman who ruined him. But when a chance encounter brings him into contact with Eliza’s daughter Áine, a twenty-one year old student looking for a chance to explore herself, he sees a chance to exact revenge. The affair is sweet and Henry knows that when he finally reveals it to Eliza, it will be even sweeter.
But Henry and Áine aren’t the only ones keeping secrets. Áine’s brother Caolán, sixteen and rebellious, has his share of demons and not all is well with Eliza and Cornelius. The veneer of the perfect family has cracks and once the truths start to spill, everything Eliza fought for will start to unravel.
Secrets cannot be buried forever and the Veil won’t stay shut. Darker forces are watching and waiting…

Ellen Crosháin is a Northern Irish writer, now living and working in South Wales. With a Northern Irish father and an Irish mother, she is the eldest of four children. Her entire childhood was spent with her head either in the clouds or in books.

She has a wide range of interests. She is a classically trained singer and is a member of her local Church choir. She loves to cook, especially baking. She makes an excellent chocolate and Guinness cake. Oddly enough, she loves to read and really does read everything from comic books to classic literature. If it’s interesting, she’ll read it but Fantasy and Gothic or Horror are her favourites.

Every draft of everything she’s ever written is done by hand in a series of beautiful notebooks. She finds that there is something more organic, more real, about the process of creating a story if it’s done by hand first.

Ellen currently lives on the outskirts of Cardiff, with her Scottish husband and a small army of guinea pigs.

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